John Wick Chapter Two review: Keanu Reeves returns as the ultimate assassin, John Wick, in a film that is easily one of the best sequels ever.

John Wick Chapter Two review by Kat Hughes, February 2017.

John Wick Chapter Two review
John Wick Chapter Two review

Back in 2014 John Wick took us all by surprise. It was a sleeper hit that came out of nowhere and brought Keanu Reeves back to the mainstream. The film proved that Reeves could still fight; the fusion of revenge, gun-fu, neon lights and a killer soundtrack combined together to create the perfect action film. Now Reeves is back as Wick in what may just be one of the best sequels we’ve ever seen.

Many second films end up with the ‘Chapter Two’ moniker tagged onto it with little thought. Usually it’s just a fancy way of naming the second film so that it sounds more important than it really is. In John Wick: Chapter Two we don’t get the expected rinse and repeat sequel, but rather a welcome continuation of the story of John Wick. You could watch both films back to back and enjoy them as one extra long film rather than two individual and independent stories.

Picking up straight after the events of the first film, John is now in the process of tying up the final loose ends before returning to his retirement. Unfortunately for John the underworld does not respect his wishes and he finds himself drawn back out to make good on a long overdue debt. Once again John must battle against countless adversaries if he wants to get his hard earned life back.

John Wick Chapter Two review
John Wick Chapter Two review

John Wick: Chapter Two has everything that made the first film great – fighting, neon lighting, a thumping soundtrack and wry humour –  plus a whole host of extras. In John Wick we saw merely the tip of the criminal underworld iceberg, and in Chapter 2, we venture much deeper. The Continental is a world wide chain, a Hilton for assassins if you will, and the perks don’t stop at room service and a doctor, there’s also a tailor who specialises in tactical suits and a sommelier (whose idea of a party is very different to ours). It’s also revealed that dynasties like the Tarasov’s are overseen by the members of the High Table, an elite assassin’s polity; and in addition to gold coins, the society trade in debt markers. It’s one of the latter that causes John’s headache this time around.

All of our favourite supporting players – Ian McShaneLance Reddick and John Leguizamo, are back in beefed up roles, Reddick once again injecting humour into proceedings. Plus we have the addition of cult icon Peter Stormare, musician turned actor, Common, the up and coming Ruby Rose and, of course, Laurence Fishburne. And then there are the action sequences…

John Wick Chapter Two review
John Wick Chapter Two review

Chad Stahelski‘s stunt background shines through, the result is a true assault on the senses. Whilst other action movies rely on shaky camerawork to cover up their leads less than stellar fighting skills, here Reeves is front and centre, and even at 52 he can still kick ass. The trademark of the series Gun-fu is present once more with all of the action cranked up to the next level.  

John Wick featured a fantastic smackdown in a nightclub, John Wick: Chapter Two somehow manages to top this, not once, but several times; the opening moments prove just why Reeves should be in a Fast and Furious film. We also get a beautiful video game style shootout within the catacombs of Rome and a bloody subway showdown between Reeves and Common which also has an unexpected injection of humour. Finally the story climaxes in a showstopping hall of mirrors. It’s a visually arresting set piece that must have been a nightmare to shoot, but trust us, the hard work was well worth it. Stahelski definitely knows his way around a fight scene with Chapter Two being sheer action perfection.

John Wick Chapter Two review
John Wick Chapter Two review

The story progresses in tandem with the exploding skulls. Our narrative builds to a crescendo that tees up the third film beautifully. It wraps things up fairly neatly, but leaves many threads unravelled ready for Chapter Three, which looks like it could be epic.

A film, which like its predecessor, is effortlessly cool, this is a fictional world that you can’t help but want to be a part of. It’s not quite as gritty as the first film, the prohibition style locations getting an expensive upgrade, but it’s still a feast for the eyes. Previously our backdrops were nightclubs, meat-packing factories and docks, now we get catacombs, museums and galleries. It’s a classier affair that highlight just where all those gold coins are going.

John Wick Chapter Two review
John Wick Chapter Two review

Bigger and better than ever, this film perfectly compliments what has come before whilst still standing on its own two feet. Gone is the revenge thriller, ‘graphic novel come to life’, replaced with a story that feels very steeped in Greek mythology. Wick had escaped the underworld but is now he’s back, against his will, and fighting desperately to reclaim his freedom once and for all.

A seamless expansion of the world, John Wick: Chapter Two ticks all the boxes. Bold. Bloody. Brutal. John Wick is back and he’s better than ever.

John Wick Chapter Two review by Kat Hughes, February 2017.

John Wick Chapter Two previews in UK cinemas on Valentine’s Day before opening wide on Friday 17th February, 2017.